Annual Report to Grand Lodge: Dwight L. Smith Lodge of Research

To the Grand Lodge: 

Per regulation 13.000 of the Indiana Blue Book of Masonic Law regarding Lodges under dispensation, the following is the report of Dwight L. Smith Lodge of Research for the combined 2019 – 2021 Masonic years. 

On May 22, 2019, Grand Master Kenneth Roy, Jr. appointed the following officers to serve until May 20, 2020: Christopher L. Hodapp, PM of Indianapolis, Indiana — Worshipful Master; Christopher J. Gamblin, PM of Lowell, Indiana — Senior Warden;  Barry B. L. White, PM of Columbus, Indiana — Junior Warden; John A. Bridegroom, PM of Chesterton, Indiana — Secretary. 

Between 2019-21, the Dwight L. Smith Lodge of Research strengthened its mission to actively work in tandem with the Masonic Library & Museum of Indiana and the Grand Lodge Historical Commission as a functioning research arm of those two intertwined committees. In this way, our combined strengths and abilities complement each other to create a functioning, useful set of educational and historical resources for Indiana Freemasonry.

To that end, our nearly 100 members have been actively involved in organizing significant historical projects in the state during the last two years:

• Brethren in the northwest part of the state worked in partnership with private owners to establish the Adams Mill historical 1865 period lodge room in Cutler, Indiana, dedicated by GM Roy for the use of the fraternity in June 2019.

• JW Barry White and Masons in and around Columbus have established the Bartholomew County Masonic History Museum at St. John’s Lodge. Nearly $35,000 has been raised so far for construction of that facility.

• Our members, led by PGM Michael Brumback, removed all of the large photographs of Indiana’s Past Grand Masters from the walls of the neglected Indianapolis Temple’s Freemasons Hall auditorium in anticipation of a major renovation of that space by local theater group Claude Macneil Productions. Our members and the Library Museum will make these photos and the individual biographies of each of these Most Worshipful brethren as an online resource for future research and reference. To that end, JW Barry White has published a new reference work in 2021, Along the Way: The Grand Masters Book, with photographs and brief biographies of all of Indiana’s Grand Masters from 1818 through 2021.

• We have provided ongoing educational and informational posts on the DLS LOR and MLMI Facebook and web pages throughout these two years. In April 2020 when the COVID-19 quarantine stay-home orders were issued in Indiana, we began recording video presentations of previous Power Point programs from the lodge, and are making them available on those websites and pages. The first program was Indiana’s Masonic Service Centers of World War II by WM Christopher Hodapp, telling the little-known story of the USO-like Masonic centers in Evansville’s and Indianapolis’ downtown Temples. It may be found on our website at . Additional video presentations will be an ongoing project.

• On April 24, 2021 we took part in the unveiling and dedication of the first new historical marker erected by the Grand Lodge since the late 1981 — appropriately in honor of our namesake, Past Grand Master and Past Grand Secretary Dwight Louis Smith, at Salem Lodge No. 21. 

• On May 1st, 2021, we organized a trip in and around the Masonic sites at Lafayette and the Tippecanoe Battlefield, including Battle Ground Lodge’s Masonic hall, and Brother Ken Moder’s J. M. Rathbone Museum of fraternal organizations. 

• We have stressed at our meetings and in our online materials the ongoing importance of Indiana’s Masons acting as proper custodians and curators of their own lodges’ history, records, relics and stories. No Grand Lodge committee or organization can do justice to discovering and preserving the past of the nearly 800 individual lodges charted in Indiana over the last two centuries. As a lodge specifically dedicated to research, we stand in partnership with the Library & Museum to provide practical advice and guidance to Masons throughout the state in properly caring for their own lodge’s treasures and archives, as well as keeping an accurate and up to date chronicle of their own past. Because quite literally all of society the world over was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, this unique moment in time should be recorded by all of our lodges to help future generations understand how we as Masons responded.

All Indiana Masons with an interest in the rich history and heritage of our fraternity in Indiana are welcomed and encouraged to attend our meetings, contribute to our growing number of written and audio/visual presentations, and join us as members. In addition to members from our own Grand Lodge, our bylaws also permit any regular, recognized Freemasons from jurisdictions in amity with the Grand Lodge F&AM of Indiana to affiliate with us as full members or non-voting associate members. 

Our two fixed stated meetings are normally held after the annual communication each May, and following the close of Founders Day activities each January. Those meetings are held on the 5th floor of the Indianapolis Masonic Temple adjacent to the Library & Museum. At least two additional meetings are expected to be held during the year in other parts of the state, but the COVID pandemic shutdowns unfortunately curtailed those plans. We anticipate resuming that programming in the coming year.

We continue to serve at the will and pleasure of the Grand Master and the Grand Lodge, and we are grateful for the opportunity to continue that mission for the benefit of the entire Indiana Masonic community.

Fraternally submitted,

Christopher L. Hodapp, PM — Worshipful Master 2019-21

Christopher J. Gamblin, PM — Senior Warden

Barry B. L. White, PM — Junior Warden

John A. Bridegroom, PM — Secretary